It appears that not only the White House is rankled by bias displayed by The New York Times in both reporting and feature articles. On Tuesday January 31st Stephanie Strom compared the standards for laying hens required by the American Humane Certified™, Animal Welfare Approved and Humane Farm Animal Care Certified Humane programs. Essentially there are no material differences in standards for hens.
The exercise allowed for a condemnation of the American Humane Association (AHA) by competitors. This is attributed to the extent, recognition and acceptance of the Humane Heartland™ American Humane Certified™ program and the fact that the Association applies scientific principles rather than sentiment in developing and maintaining standards applicable to intensive livestock and poultry production.
Dr. Robin Ganzert
This is expressed by acknowledged welfare and behavioral expert, Dr. Temple Grandin as quoted in the NYT article stating “What the AHA is trying to do is work with large-scale commercial producers so that they have at least some standards”
There are just too many “certifying” agencies and organizations. Why? Because there is money to be made which can be applied to advancing agendas opposing intensive production and ultimately a vegan imperative. Competition is intense among the lesser agencies to gain advantage by claiming superior standards, irrespective of the impact on the cost of food or the lack of scientific justification used to “out-welfare” the mainstream certifiers.
The proliferation of alternative labels is creating confusion among consumers and merchant-buyers working for the chain stores and retailers. Some welfare seals are adopted or created to appeal to an affluent demographic such as the Whole Foods Market Global Animal Partnership and others such as Farm Forward and a Greener World.
Despite the proliferation of alternative programs and nomenclature the egg-production industry in the U.S. would not be served by Federal standards or certification. Similar confusion on descriptors used in packaging includes the definition of housing as evidenced by a lack of definition of terms such as “free range” and cage-free”.
Neither the United Egg producers nor the AHA were quoted in the article by Ms. Strom although there were comments denigrating the AHA from spokespersons whom Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca would regard as the “usual suspects”.
In responding to the NYT article Dr. Robin R. Ganzert president and CEO of the AHA issued a statement addressed to supporters which eloquently expresses pride in the American Humane Association- Humane Heartland ™ farm animal certification program and the standards on which it is based.
Her statement is reproduces for the benefit of subscribers:-
The New York Times has just published a story that is critical of American Humane’s farm animal certification standards. We stand behind the integrity of our program and that of our producers. We are proud of our standards, which are under continual scientific review with a select group of world renowned, respected animal welfare scientists and ethicists. We utilize independent third party auditing groups to ensure the credibility and strength of our program.
We declined to participate because the reporter, Stephanie Strom, is notoriously biased against modern farm practices. We also discovered that this was a carefully orchestrated attack led by several organizations with vegan agendas.
An objective observer of Strom’s reporting would quickly see that her sympathies lie with groups like the Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, Mercy for Animals, Direct Action Everywhere and other activist groups who oppose raising animals for food. We knew she was not interested in doing a fair examination of our certification efforts.
Stories like this, while infrequent and even rare, show how Ms. Strom and her radical vegan allies are threatened by the success and scope of our program as the world’s largest and most effective certifier of animal welfare. I’m choosing to interpret their insecure attacks, while disappointing, as an indication that they are threatened by our program and message of science based welfare.
We are deeply disappointed in The New York Times for running such a biased article. Instead of criticizing our program, they should be applauding you and all of our producers for demonstrating leadership in the care of animals and going above and beyond standard industry practices